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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 30, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 26
Same-sex couples must get equal treatment on birth certificates, SCOTUS says
Section One
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Same-sex couples must get equal treatment on birth certificates, SCOTUS says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The US Supreme Court sided with two Lesbian couples in an Arkansas lawsuit, ruling that both partners must be listed as parents on the birth certificates of the couples' children.

The decision in Pavan v. Smith was announced June 26. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and the newly installed Neil Gorsuch dissented from the brief and unsigned majority opinion.

Under the Arkansas procedure struck down by the court, a woman's husband is routinely listed as the father of her child - even if he is not the actual biological father - while only the biological parent of a child of a same-sex couple would be listed as a parent.

The plaintiffs sued to have the same presumption of parenthood applied to same-sex spouses.

The case involved two married Lesbian couples who had each jointly planned their child's conception by means of an anonymous sperm donor. State officials listed only the biological mothers on the children's birth certificates and refused to list their partners, saying they were not entitled to a husband's presumption of paternity.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said their clients and the children involved in the case suffered harm as a result of Arkansas policy.

'A child's birth certificate affects parental decision-making authority in the medical and educational context,' the lawyers said in court documents. 'For example, some Arkansas public schools allow only those parents named on the child's birth certificate to receive educational information absent a court order.'

Lawyers for the state argued that 'parental rights flow from biology, not marriage,' and that 'in the overwhelming majority of cases, the mother's husband is a marital child's biological father.'

The Supreme Court's ruling in this case is viewed as a reaffirmation of its 2015 Obergefell decision, which specifically listed birth certificates as one of the 'governmental rights, benefits, and responsibilities' that typically accompany marriage.

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